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Lee girls soccer wins state opener on PKs

Lee County’s Kristi Sheridan, right, fights for a ball with Lakeside, Evans’ Logan Williams during Wednesday’s first round of the Class AAAA state tournament. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

Lee County’s Kristi Sheridan, right, fights for a ball with Lakeside, Evans’ Logan Williams during Wednesday’s first round of the Class AAAA state tournament. (joe.bellacomo@albanyherald.com)

LEESBURG — Danielle Brendel admits she guessed, but all that mattered was she guessed right.

Brendel, Lee County’s goalie, stopped the first two penalty kicks in sudden death overtime to help lift the Lady Trojans to a 5-3 win against Lakeside, Evans in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAA girls soccer playoffs Wednesday.

Lee County now moves on to the Sweet 16 next week and will play host to Heritage-Conyers on Wednesday.

To get there, the Lady Trojans needed 90-plus minutes and some educated guesses from their junior netminder.

“A lot (of pressure),” Brendel said of staring down the Lady Panthers in the penalty-kick session after two 5-minute overtimes couldn’t break a 2-2 tie. “It’s kind of like a guessing game for keepers.”

Brendell dove right and turned away Lakeside’s Deven Haygood and Alexis Dunbar on the first two PKs, while Lee County answered with scores from Carsen Taylor and Ivy Booker.

After the Lady Panthers’ Kallie Bekcham and Lady Trojan Elsie Mullins traded penalty kick goals, Lakeside’s Ana Whitehouse’s try missed high and Region 1-AAAA champ Lee County was on to the next round, despite a scare from a No. 4 seed in the first round.

“They were good and they were from a really good region,” Taylor said of Lakeside. “We were expecting it to be hard.”

Lee head coach Dave Baltenberger, whose team is now 13-4-1, didn’t expect the Lady Panthers to drive nearly four hours from Augusta and lay down.

“When there’s 32 teams left, everybody is good,” Baltenberger said. “A four (seed) doesn’t mean anything to me. I think it was two evenly matched teams. Somebody had to step up and make a play and (Brendel) did.”

Lakeside (8-9) got to Brendel twice, the first coming 17 minutes into the state playoff opener on Katie Coleman’s goal for a 1-0 Lady Panthers lead. Tessa Geyer found the net three minutes into the second half to tie the game at 2-2 and things stayed deadlocked until the pressure was on Brendel in PKs.

“I think she actually puts more pressure on herself than we do,” Taylor said of Brendel. “She’s an awesome goalie.”

Lee County took a 2-1 lead 42 seconds before halftime when Tamia Mills squeezed a shot in from the side of the net. Lady Trojans’ senior Casey Schoenberger scored the first Lee goal on a quick rebound kick that came off Kristi Sheridan’s shot on goal that was deflected.

Schoenberger, one of only three Lady Trojans seniors, injured her leg in the second half and did not return. Balterberger said her status for next week’s second round playoff is up in the air

“We’re happy to be in the next round,” said Baltenberger, whose last team to advance past the second round was in 2009.